Often, I rave about the joys of using my phone and computer less. No more comparing myself to others, scrolling mindlessly, or getting lost in rabbit holes. More writing, blogging, and reading!
I have a Google Acer Chromebook and a Google Nexus 6 cell phone. Here are the 4 apps I have found most useful in limiting their use:
- StayFocusd – Chrome extensionWhat it does: Allows you to limit the time you spend on certain websites. Once your time is up, it blocks all access until the next day.
Pros: You can customize almost every aspect. The days it’s in use,1 the amount of time allotted, and what happens when your time is up. And it’s free!
Cons: Only works in the Chrome web browser,2 so you could potentially cheat by downloading another browser.3 Doesn’t sync with the Chrome browser on cell phones. You can’t add different amounts of time allotted for different sites, although the developer says that will be coming ASAP.
Overall: Although there are a few drawbacks, this free extension is one of the most effective ways I have limited where I can go and what I can do on the internet. I’m able to access Google docs to write my book, but I can’t get lost in Google itself. If you’re a Chrome user I would highly suggest using this extension!
- News Feed Eradicator for Facebook – Chrome extension
What it does: Replaces your newsfeed with a quote. Pros: Easy to install, and free! You can also put in custom quotes. Cons: Only works for Facebook, only available on the Chrome web browser.
Overall: This is an easy and quick way to eliminate a huge time suck…Facebook.
- Stay Focused – App Block – Google Play app
What it does: Done by a different developer, this is similar to the web app. You can either set a daily usage time, or block apps during specific times, or keep away from apps for an amount of time. Pros: You can customize almost everything, and set a different amount of time for each app. The app is free, with a choice to upgrade to the pro version. The paid version is wonderful, with two modes that completely keep you from changing the settings on the phone yourself. I have the pro version so I have to ask Zach to unlock the app anytime I want to change or adjust the settings! Cons: Fairly easy to pause if you use the free version. You can’t set the amount of time you want to use the app as well as what time of the day you want it accessible (which is why I combine it with Quality Time). Only available on Google Play.
Overall: If you’re serious about limiting your phone time, pay for the pro version. It’s worth it, and affordable. This is the most effective way I’ve been able to cut my phone usage!
- Quality Time – Google Play App
What it does: Blocks certain apps at certain times based on the profiles you set up. Pros: You can do a blanket block for your apps in a profile, and they are easy to customize. Multiple profiles can be set up. You can also block calls, but send a text message to the person calling with a custom message. If you want to get out of the profile you can set a penalty to wait either 30 seconds, or 1 or 5 minutes. And, it’s free! Cons: Profile times can’t overlap. After awhile, the wait penalty wasn’t harsh enough for me (which is why I combine this one with Stay Focused). Sometimes you have to verify you’re using an “allowed” app multiple times while using it. Only available on Google Play.
Overall: This is a great way to ease into blocking your phone apps, as the exit penalty means that if you just HAVE to get on your phone, you can.
And that’s it! If you want to get reaaaaaal serious, you can start deleting your social media altogether. But limiting yourself is a great step toward taking control how and when you access the internet, and hopefully freeing up time for you to do other things. Like play video games.4
I realize this is only helpful if you are a Google and Chrome user, so please, let me know what apps and programs you use to block your phone and computer. I’d love to hear them!